On Impostor Syndrome

This is garbage. I’ll never be good enough to make decent money doing this. I should just give up. Why do I try? Sure, I’m published, but am I any good? Probably not. Your family tells you they love your writing, but that’s what they are supposed to say. Eventually, people will realize you actually suck at this. In the grand scheme of things, your writing doesn’t matter. 

These are thoughts that run through my head on a regular basis, whether I’m writing, editing, brainstorming, or lying awake in bed at night. It’s that little voice of doubt that whispers constantly that I am a failure, that I should give up now, and that I’ll never get to where I want to go.

For a while, I listened. I would start a project and abandon it before even telling anyone I was working on it. I was terrified of rejection. Terrified that the little asshole voice in my mind was right. Finally, in 2017, I had enough and submitted a short story to a publishing contest. I was floored when it was accepted and published in the anthology.

What? Me!? My writing was… good? Good enough to be chosen by strangers?

So I started submitting other things to other anthologies and publications, and the acceptances came one after another, bolstering my confidence. I published a novel, a sequel, and a poetry collection, and the reviews (so far) are all positive.

So why is that little voice still there? Why, despite the glowing reviews and the praise from my family and friends, does this tiny sadist in my mind still insist I’m a failure? Honestly, I have no idea. I don’t have a concrete answer.

I’ve always struggled with mental health: specifically anxiety and depression, so I think part of the answer is rooted there. But upon talking with author colleagues, Impostor Syndrome seems pretty universal. Hell, even Neil Gaiman has struggled with this! So I think I’m in good company.

I’m not sure how to get this little voice to shut up forever. I have no concrete advice to give, or a fix-all for feeling this way. But I do know that it feels better to know that I’m not in this alone, and that makes it all bearable.

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